September 19, 2016 12:00 PM, EDT

Survey Finds Wide Variance in ELD Compliance

Omnitracs Inc.

Logistics provider TransPlace’s carrier survey of preparedness for the 2017 electronic logging device mandate has found a sharp divide between larger and smaller fleets, with 38% of smaller fleets having no immediate plans to install ELDs in their vehicles.

Texas-based Transplace divided its study of more than 400 carriers into groups of smaller and larger fleets. Among those in the larger category, running more than 250 trucks, some 81% said they have fully complied with the mandate that becomes effective in December 2017 and another 19% are in the process of doing so.

However, smaller fleets reported 33% full integration of the devices, and 29% working to complete the compliance process.

“Implementation of ELDs has been significantly slower for carriers with smaller fleets” said Ben Cubitt, senior vice president for consulting and engineering. “While some carriers are still researching the technology, others indicated that they are holding out in the hope that the mandate will be overturned in court. One carrier responded to the survey by saying, ‘I will sell out first.’ ”

Cubitt’s comment was a reference to a suit by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that challenged the ELD mandate. A U.S. Court of Appeals recently heard arguments about the mandate imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. There hasn’t yet been a ruling on the most recent suit. The owner-operator group won an earlier court case, forcing the agency to issue a new final rule.

“While much can happen between now and when the mandate takes full effect on December 16, 2017, most carriers — large and small — anticipate a noticeable impact to utilization and capacity,” Cubitt said. “The challenge will be to find the right balance of good safety practices without causing a significant disruption to the transportation industry.”

Based on fleet size, there also were gaps in expectations about capacity and equipment utilization changes. At larger fleets, 56% expected utilization and capacity to be reduced, while 64% of smaller fleets expect that effect on their business.

A majority of carriers surveyed reported losing drivers because they installed ELDs that monitor drivers hours to prevent violations.

“While most indicated that they only lost a few drivers, one carrier reported losing 50% of its drivers,” according to one surveyed carrier.

 “We have 110 trucks and lost 29 drivers when we switched them over to e-logs,” according to another surveyed carrier.

The survey also found that a range of financial impact, with 45% saying they expect to spend more than $700 per truck. The lowest cost of $100 to $300 per truck, is expected by 18%. Others surveyed ranged in between those upper and lower levels.

There also was a recognition of a sharp drop in hours of service and logging violations, with 84% of larger fleets and 56% of smaller ones reporting that outcome.

While some surveyed fleets expected negative impacts, the survey also showed that 21% anticipate improved driver and equipment utilization.